Book-it bucket list

Sania Chandrani, Staff Writer

In high school, reading becomes a mandate, and it can lose its zest when everyone is reading the same thing. As a lover of books myself, I know readers have their own identities. I hate to think that we all have to conform to reading the same thing as all of our peers, leaving us without the time to enjoy our own choice of novels as we may have at one time.

Without further ado, here is a list of some of my favorite stories in no particular order, which, hopefully, most of you have not read and will definitely enjoy.

 1) The Book Thief

Marcus Zusak

 If I told you this book were set during the Holocaust inGermany, you might close this tab on your browser right now, so instead I’ll say that this book was written from the perspective of Death.

This was the first historical fiction book I fell in love with. More than just a historical fiction story, The Book Thief flawlessly demonstrates a child’s thirst for knowledge and clarity of thought and the tragedy that occurs when these things are taken away.

Merely a girl when Hitler comes to power, Liesel has an awareness of the world around her that most people never will, yet she is content with her books and her friend, Rudy. However, when politics and essentially the “world of grown-ups” mar a child’s purity through death, betrayal and the removal of her words, your heart will throb. You might even begin to believe that “even death has a heart.”

 2) I am the Messenger

Marcus Zusak

 This is the second and final book in this list by Zusak; I promise. This story explores identity. Ed, a desolate young man has no idea what he’s doing with his life, waiting for a better job to appear, his best friend to fall in love with him, and his purpose in life to become apparent. With no idea where to turn, Ed unintentionally stops a bank robbery.

From there, he begins to receive a series of mysterious playing cards in the mail. Each one leads him to solve some other problem without recognition–simply as a messenger. Amidst the all of the life threatening yet rewarding adventures, Ed realizes that there is a message within these cards for him, a message telling him to find his identity and learn who he truly is.

This book is perfect for any teenager. We are all searching to find ourselves, and oftentimes, we get caught up in trying to save everyone else with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Unfortunately, we can’t save everyone, and we are most definitely not Atlas, but Zusak made me believe that “maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.” Marcus Zusak is a magician of words and his messages will get under your skin and perhaps keep you up at night flipping pages.

 3) The Great Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald

 At the mention of a classic, you might just turn away and think that I’m a high-school teacher in disguise trying to educate you. Hear me out, Gatsby is an exception.

What is it about? Well, it’s about life. The Great Gatsby recounts the story of a lovelorn man, Gatsby, who spent his life living in remorse and in wanting of his one and only love, Daisy Buchanan.

Gatsby is alone and no one really understands him except for Nick, his neighbor. Through Nick’s eyes, you see the consequences of love whether fleeting or lifelong, the faults in high society and the burden of a dark past.

Fitzgerald makes readers want to reach out to Gatsby and, through his mistakes, learn to live without regrets. Sure enough, if you life with regrets, you may very will die with them, and life hardly grants second chances.

 4) Crush

Richard Siken

            After years of analyzing poetry and sucking the fun out of a poem like you’ve run out of juice in a juice pouch, this short collection of poems by Richard Siken was refreshing and relatable.

For the most part, he says what he means, and while there are definite underlying symbols, Siken conveys a message that all teenagers can relate to at one time or another. Crush expresses the feelings of a teenager—or anyone, really—who cares for someone, whether it’s romantically or as friend. He shows how a “crush” can really crush one’s heart, but it is okay to feel that pain and that it’ll go away.

The author poured his heart in to the collection, and while reading, my heart connected with his words, and hopefully yours does, too.

 5) Incarceron

Catherine Fisher

 Post apocalyptic adventures have become immensely popular lately. Maybe it’s the Mayans, and perhaps it’s just society’s need to find something to worry about. Either way, the setting of this story is almost beyond description, but I’ll try.

In a futuristic world, energy has nearly run out, so there is no color anywhere save the capitol where the queen resides. Due to overpopulation and lack of resources, the government had created a project to form a now world—a living world that would understand the needs of all of its residences, a utopia. We all know how that ends. This new world really does have a mind of its own, and this haven turns into a prison, and the prison wants to escape itself.

Confused yet? Now, every miscreant or vagrant is thrown inside never to return. This entire world, however, exists as a tiny facet of the real world and is only accessible by the warden of the kingdom. Incarceron, the prison, holds Finn and his companions who are trying to escape because of Finn’s visions (or are they memories) of a life outside their world which may or may not exist. After all he does live “underground, [where] the stars are legend.”  

When Finn finds out he may actually have been born outside the prison which was considered impossible by its inhabitants, he connects with the Warden’s daughter in the real world. Together, they try and free Finn, but an exchange must be made.

Until the very last page, I had no idea what to expect. Fisher has an incredible imagination that’ll make yours run wild as well.